Are you planning to make a trip to the Bahamas in the near future? Whether you're flying in and staying at a resort or taking a cruise with this as a destination stop, Nassau, Bahamas offers guests some of the most unforgettable experiences on the planet. If this is your first time there, we have a few suggestions to help you maximize your enjoyment of the visit with a few must-see spots, and a few of Nassau's best kept secrets. Here are the 20 best things to do in Nassau, the Bahamas for fist time visitors.
20. Visit Parliament Square
Parliament Square is one of the most highly recommended tourist attractions in the downtown area of Nassau. The structures were built in 1815 and they are coated in a rose-colored paint in a British Colonial architecture with a splash of tropical color that gives the square a Caribbean vibe. This is a historical site that is home to the statue that honors Queen Victoria and it is also the home of the Supreme Court of the Bahamas, and important governmental offices. This is a great spot to get pictures to commemorate your visit to the capital city.
19. Sunbathe at Junkanoo Beach
Junkanoo Beach is one of the closest beaches to the port. You can walk there in just 15 minutes if you're arriving via cruise ship and you can even see it from aboard ship to scope it out in advance. The waters are turquoise in color and the waters are relatively calm. It's one of the most perfect beaches for relaxing at the end of an excursion into town.
18. Go on a Catamaran cruise
There are some great catamaran cruises available in Nassau. The average time out is about 45 minutes and the cruise captains take you out on the crystal blue water where you get a tour of the area while sipping on rum punch which is provided for guests. You can get a full immersion in Caribbean culture complete with musicians who will keep you entertained with songs from the local region. You can relax and take it all in or listen to the history and important facts shared by the tour guide.
17. Visit the Atlantis Resort
The Atlantis Resort is a must-see whether you're traveling as a couple or have the entire family along. This is a world-class destination for tourists. If you're looking for a great place to stay this is one that you'll want to consider booking. Even if you're just visiting for the day, you're welcome to pick up a day pass to enjoy some of the premium attractions of the resort or browse through the numerous shops to pick up souvenirs, gifts, and mementos of your trip to Nassau. The resort is huge so if you want to take full advantage, we recommend allowing yourself several hours here.
16. Take your picture on the Queen's Staircase
The Queen's Staircase is another popular attraction in Nassau. It's one of the most visited by tourists in the city. The Queen's Staircase was originally built as a shortcut for soldiers to take to get to For Fincastle in the event of a military invasion. It's a limestone ladder consisting of 65 steps and it was carved by slaves. The steps were named after Queen Victoria because of her help in abolishing the practice of slavery in the Bahamas. The Queen's Staircase is located on Elizabeth Avenue.
15. Tour Fort Fincastle
Fort Fincastle is located on Bennet's Hill. This popular tourist attraction offers an amazing panoramic view of Paradise Island and the city of Nassau. You can watch ships coming into port from this locale. The Fort has tremendous historical significance for the Bahamas as it was first built in the year 1793 to protect the citizens of the island from invading pirate ships. It was also used to help guide ships to the island with safe passage. This is the highest point on the New Providence island.
14. Go shopping at Straw market
No trip to Nassau is complete without taking a stroll through the Straw Market quarter located on W Bay Street. This is a local marketplace that features over 500 different vendors who offer handmade arts and crafts from the islands, a fresh market featuring fish and fruits, and tons of various handcrafted straw products, items made from coconuts, shells, wood, and other natural resources from the island. This is a great place to pick up unique and authentic souvenirs for friends and family back home. They'll be thrilled with the impressive straw-braided items that feature some intricate braiding design work. You'll quickly learn that all prices are negotiable at the market.
13. Visit Bay Street
After you're done shopping on W Bay Street at Straw Market, take a trip down east and catch some of the amazing vendors that are on Bay Street. This is Nassau's main street in the downtown area so it's not difficult to find. This is the street that is home to many historic landmarks, but there are also some famous international luxury brand vendors offering duty-free shops. It's a great place to find cigars, jewelry, cosmetics, perfume and there are even some bars and restaurants to rest and rejuvenate from your shopping experience.
12. Tour Ardastra Garden, Zoo and Conservation Center
If you're in Nassau with the family one of the best destinations to visit is the Ardastra Garden, Zoo and Conservation Center. Here you'll find some of the most amazing animal acts including marching flamingos with shows offered three times a day. You can also feed the Lory parrots with apples supplied by the zoo. To spend a day at this attraction, it costs $18 per adult, kids age 4-12 are $9 each, and children under age 3 get in free. Enjoy the souvenir shop, and there are also a few places to get snacks and drinks and restrooms are also provided.
11. Spend a day at the Atlantis Beaches
You can purchase day passes to access four Atlantis Resort beach areas. This is a beach that is recommended more for adults because the shoreline is beautiful yet steep. The water gets deep fast so it's not the best place to take little ones. Here you can enjoy a variety of different activities including access to restrooms, paddle boat rentals, snorkeling equipment rentals, locker rentals, towels, and access to food and drink. The starting fee is $125 a person for day passes to the four Atlantis beaches.
10. Spend time at Cable Beach and grab a meal
Cable Beach offers passes that are less expensive than Atlantis Beaches. The starting cost is $45 per adult and $25 per child. This is a smaller area of cable beach that is filled with great amenities as provided by the lineup of hotels around the beach. Some offer snorkel gear, lounge chairs, umbrellas, towels, volleyball and basketball courts, pool access, public restrooms, and food and drink options.
9. Get in on a Dolphin Encounter
One of the most interesting activities offered in Nassau is the Dolphin Encounter. There are a few different beaches that are set up for this activity. Blue Lagoon Beach offers a choice of 4 different dolphin encounters. You actually get to feel their skin, teeth, and tongue if you want. It gets you up close and personal with these amazing creatures. A Shallow Water Encounter is $115 per person, the DolphinSwim for anyone age 6 and over is $185 per person, Trainer for the Day is for age 13 +, and it's $350 per person and Jr. Trainer for the Day is for kids aged 13-17 at $275 per person.
8. Go Snorkeling at Cable Beach to see the marine life
If you're really into cool tropical marine life then the best way to see it is to get out there among them. If you have your own snorkeling gear, bring it along for a trip to Cable Beach. If you don't you can buy it from vendors that are set up on the beach to get you outfitted. You can book excursions that will take you right out in the middle of some of the most beautiful creatures that the area has to offer. The starting rates for guided snorkeling excursions are $85 per person.
7. Visit the Pirates of Nassau attraction
This is one of the most fascinating museums in the world for Pirate fans. The museum is within walking distance from the cruise docks in Nassau. There are several different display exhibits, but some of them are quite graphic, so it's a good idea to read the signs before you enter each one if you have small children along. This is an ideal locale for learning the real history of the Pirates of the Caribbean. The museum also has a lot of fun information and exhibits that are okay for smaller kids, but you have to be careful about which you choose. Admission prices are $13.50 for adults and $6.50 per child.
6. Go Scuba Diving and check out the shipwrecks
The starting rate for an old shipwreck exploration scuba diving excursion is just $79 per person. This will be a memorable experience as professional scuba diving guides take you to the sites where ships sank decades ago. You'll see the old ships, colorful marine life, and more. Some companies offer shark dives for those who are a bit braver and reef dives. If you're a novice the Nassau Scuba Dive also offers beginner's classes to get you up to speed and ready to go.
5. Have a Sea Lion Encounter
Blue Lagoon offers a Sea Lion Encounter for just $109 per person. This is the chance of a lifetime to come into contact with sea lions and touch them. You can even play with a sea lion in shallow water to get the full experience. There are professionals standing nearby to ensure your safety. Atlantis Resort also offers this encounter with the added bonus of an Aquaventure. The admission is significantly higher at $258 per person.
4. Go for a Stingray Encounter
Stingray encounters are for the more stout of heart, but they are available in Nassau. Blue Lagoon offers Stingray Encounters that allow you to pet the more gentle examples of the species in a shallow area, and you can also snorkel among them to get a really close encounter. The cost is $59 per person for age 4 through adult at Blue Lagoon, and at Atlantist, it is $95.50 per person with the starting age at 5 years old.
3. Tour the Balcony House
The oldest standing residence in the city of Nassau is the Balcony House. This structure has been converted into a fully restored period museum. There is no charge for admission but they do appreciate all donations. It's not far from the cruise ship terminal and downtown Nassau and it's close enough to walk to from these areas.
2. Visit Fort Charlotte
Another popular tourist attraction in Nassau is Fort Charlotte. This is the island's largest fort and it was built in 1788 by Lord Dunmore. This is one of the most unforgettable attractions on the island because it is a fort that is complete with 44 canons, a moat, dungeons, and more. Tour guides are available for tips to give you a complete history of the Fort. The price of admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, and children under 12 get in for just $2.
1. Tour Graycliff
Graycliff is the top-recommended tourist attraction in Nassau. It was formerly the mansion built by Caribbean pirate Captain John Howard Graysmith. It has since been converted into a hotel that features a Heritage Museum, a Cigar Company, a Chocolatier, an Art Studio, and a Culinary Experience. You can also sign up for a chocolate-making tour to see how they make their world-famous creations. There is a charge of $54 per person for The Art of Chocolate Making Tour and the others vary in cost.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn